WHITE PLAINS, NY - The St. Mary's Gaels were looking to rebound after two tough losses but Friday night at the house of Archbishop Stepinac would not be the place for a change of course.
The Crusaders would lay the ground work early and eventually send the Manhasset, NY team back to Long Island with a, 76-56, loss and sub .500 record to start the New Year.
The first quarter would be a warm up for both teams as reflected in the lead which seesawed back and forth. St. Mary's 6'9" freshman center Jessie Govan, Jr. (14 points) would continue to show his upside displaying his ever improving prowess in the paint as well as his basketball IQ. Senior guard Tyler Iacuone (18 points) matched the Gaels intensity with dazzling facilitation and perimeter shooting, giving Stepinac a one point advantage to start the second quarter.
A trey by Iacuone would extend the Crusaders lead and ignite a 7-2 run as a steal and outlet pass to Josh James (11 points) left St. Mary's in a 23-17 deficit. Senior PG Wilson Molina (24 points) would close the gap to 3 points but back-to-back-back threes by marksman James Decker (9 points) and a drive by Naim Thomas (6 points) with 2.8 seconds on the clock planted Stepinac firmly ahead by 10 points at the half.
Down 37-27 to begin the third quarter, the Gaels looked to make a run and struck first but Stepinac countered and expanded their lead to 17 points.
The frustration of St. Mary's began to manifest as both Travis Whitfield (4 points) and head coach Billy Harkins picked up technical fouls. The Crusaders would capitalize on the Gaels implosion from the charity stripe and take a 55-39 lead into the final quarter.
Things went from bad to worse as the Gaels committed a flagrant foul on Malik Oness (8 points) who punted the Stepinac lead to 20 points with 6:09 left to play.
With 4:15 remaining in regulation, the Crusaders lead had swollen to 24 points. At the 3 minute mark, Stepinac head coach Tim Philp mercifully subbed out his starters.
The St. Mary's Gaels are now 5-6 while the Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders improves to 4-4.